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Oceanside anticipates $1 million budget surplus next fiscal year

OCEANSIDE — The city expects a $1 million surplus in the upcoming fiscal year budget, leading some residents and elected officials to advocate for additional spending on city art projects, sand restoration and public safety improvements. 

According to Financial Services Director Jill Moya, the city’s total appropriations for all funds, including Measure X, are $604.5 million. The total amount allocated for operating expenses is $550.2 million, and capital improvement project allocations are $54.3 million.

Regarding the general fund, the city expects to collect $216.28 million in revenue while spending about $215.28 million on daily city operations and projects.

The approved budget included the council’s direction from its April 17 budget workshop to add $75,000 for gopher control in city parks, $8,000 for the National Night Out program, $75,000 for the public broadcasting channel KOCT, and an additional $100,000 for beach restoration efforts.

Moya said the city has dedicated $867,000 toward beach restoration efforts next year using the additional funds.

Other highlights from the budget included allocating $5 million in Measure X funds for a new firing range and training center for police, which will help offset costs for the new future police headquarters and $150,000 for a health and wellness program for the fire department.

Measure X, the 2018 voter-approved half-cent sales tax initiative dedicated to public safety that is about to enter its sixth year of spending, projects $18.8 million in revenues, $9.9 million in operating expenses and $16.5 million in capital improvements. The City Council is expected to discuss a possible extension of Measure X, which is due to end after seven years, later this month. 

Oceanside Harbor expects a $340,000 surplus in next year’s budget. The harbor will spend $2.53 million on capital improvements, including replacing the R and S docks.

Other funded upcoming capital improvement projects include replacing the Ron Ortega Park baseball restrooms and designing a field upgrade; developing El Corazon Park Site 1; installing security lighting at Joe Balderrama, John Landes and Melba Bishop parks; and conducting a pedestrian lighting assessment in the Crown Heights neighborhood. These projects are in addition to continued projects like the second phase of the downtown water sewer pipeline replacement.

The City Council approved the 2024-2025 budget on June 5 with one last-minute change that will increase the annual funds allocated for the Arts Commission from $25,000 to $50,000 at the request of Mayor Esther Sanchez.

Several residents wanted the city to spend more on the arts, and some even suggested reserving 1% of Measure X revenues for art projects.

City Manager Jonathan Borrego said that while Measure X doesn’t specifically outline funding for the arts, the initiative does dedicate funding for youth intervention and gang diversion efforts. This includes various art programs like the Art Miles Mural Project, Slice of Art, a youth theater program, and funds saved for mariachi and ballet folklorico programming.

“Most of these are serving our most challenged neighborhoods, so we’re certainly meeting the mark there,” Borrego said.

Several residents also suggested using more Measure X funds on pedestrian and bike safety improvements instead of spending as much on the police each year.

“I love the police, but they don’t need to be number one,” said Oceanside resident Amber Kae, who is running for the District 4 council seat.

Kae suggested the city focus on making bike and other traffic safety improvements around the Frontwave Arena, which opens in September. She also suggested spending more on homelessness prevention for seniors.

Several speakers were thrilled about the amount of spending the city had planned for beach restoration. 

“As a beach city, our beaches and shoreline are critical infrastructure and should be funded with the same priority as any other vital infrastructure in our city,” said Bob Ashton, president of Save Oceanside Sand, a nonprofit that advocates for beach restoration. 

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